Is it legal for an employer to deny the use of accrued sick time?
Question Details: I work part-time for an organization in the state of MA which is eligible for paid sick leave 30 employees and have accrued 30 hours of sick-time since starting. I have been told that since we are not guaranteed specific shifts, and our shifts are determined based on other employee availability, that I cannot use this time. We are told instead that if we are sick we just have to find another employee to cover our shift and this time will go unpaid. Are there any circumstances where this could be allowed?
No, it is not legal if they give you sick leave which you have accrued. Sick leave is a benefit which you earn by working for it; it is in similar to your pay or vacation days (if you get vacation) in that way. To deny you sick leave is to take away part of your compensation which you worked for, which is illegal. If they will not let you use accrued sick leave, contact your state department of labor.
In MA, the law prohibits employers from interfering (including the denial) of an employee's exercise of their earned sick time rights. This not only means that employers cannot subject employees to discipline for using such time but also that employers cannot consider an employee's use of sick time as a negative factor in any performance evaluation, promotion decision, disciplinary action, or termination decision.